3D Print Your Own Custom Cup Holder

After a winter that seemed like it would never end, we have finally started to get some nice summer weather in Syracuse, NY. If you’re taking a summer road trip or en route to your favorite summer vacation spot, you likely have a lot of time in the car ahead of you. 3D printing can help customize your interior to make it more functional, giving you the most comfortable road trip possible.

Before we go any further, most consumer-tier 3D printers use (mostly) PLA plastic. This corn-based polymer has a low level of heat resistance and can distort when left outside in a hot car. Additionally, if your dog’s favorite toy gets left out in the sun for a long time, you might notice it start to lose color. PLA and many other plastics break down when left in UV-heavy sunlight over time. These properties do not work in our favor when trying to use 3D printing, but our go-to material – ASA – is well suited to take on the challenge.

ASA (Acrylonitrile Styrene Acrylate) is a common alternative to the popular ABS plastic that many consumer products are made of. ASA has plenty of heat resistance to tolerate a hot car interior and has UV-stability to resist breaking down in sunlight, making it the perfect material for outdoor applications.

I like to stay hydrated and carry my one-liter water bottle everywhere I go. However, it doesn’t fit in my car’s cup holders, which creates a problem if a sharp turn sends it flying while driving. Using SolidWorks, and the F370 3D printer we have in the office, we will create an adapter so my water bottle can travel safely on the road.

1 liter cup that won't fit

Before diving into SolidWorks, I took some measurements of the diameter and depth of the cup holder. I placed a sheet of paper near the center console and roughly traced out the curved profile.

Tracing the curve profile

I used our scanner to create an at-scale drawing, then imported it into Inkscape. Inkscape is an open-source vector-graphics program that I’m a big fan of. In the image below, you can see my blue scribbles from the scan, and a green path that I drew over it. We can then delete the image, and save the path as a DXF file that can be imported into SolidWorks.

At-scale drawing in Inkscape

To import our DXF file, we’re going to File>Open, then choose the file. This will fire up SolidWorks’ DXF wizard, making it easy to import. From there, with an Extrude, a Loft, and Split Body, we have our cup holder adapter ready for printing. Roughly five hours later on our F370, and a functional ASA cup holder adapter is in use!

Launchin SOLIDWORKS to view the DXFOpening my DXF in Solidworks

The finished product!

Finished 3D Print car cup holder

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